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Brokering knowledge with Nerida Hart

"It's not about the collections. It's about the people."

That's according to one of the leading minds in knowledge management today, Nerida Hart. Janelle and Nerida connected over the phone last week to delve into her concepts and analysis of some of the industry's biggest trends, namely the evolution to social libraries. Their podcast is below.

Nerida's 30 years in the biz have brought her to Land & Water Australia in Canberra, Australia, where she's Program Manager for Knowledge for the Regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) Program.

There, she's helped develop the Regional Knowledge Resource Kit, a wiki providing an interactive online resource for learning and developing skills in information and knowledge management for regional NRM. More about the RKRK can be read on Land & Water Australia's site.

During Janelle's interview, Nerida talks about how special libraries are transforming from "black-box services" to collaborative initiatives with clients. Here, librarians and info pros are becoming "knowledge brokers," sharing and communicating with clients to find the information they need.

"The information on its own doesn't get the job done," Nerida says. "It's people taking that information, working together collaboratively, that actually makes a difference."

She believes social technologies are crucial to achieving this. She's a social media junkie herself, and you can find her on Twitter (NeridaHart), Skype (NeridaHartau), Facebook, and LinkedIn. She says social technologies enable her to stay up to date on things happening around the country, and can easily and rapidly alert her colleagues and stakeholders of news affecting them.

Social technologies are so vital to KM, in fact, Nerida believes they're not optional tools to adopt. Librarians must have access to social technologies to be knowledge brokers to the rest of the department or organization, and manage library 2.0 initiatives.

This is placing librarians in an increasingly powerful position. They become an enabler by facilitating access and permissions to organizational knowledgebases. They are uniquely capable of filling this role, because librarians are already trusted, consulted members of the organization.

Nerida says this means librarians must be cultivating their social networking skills today, to remain on the cutting edge of their career.

She attributes this new KM era largely to the Internet. It's given us immediate information. But because virtually anyone can publish almost anything, quality has been compromised, and many people find the amount of information is overwhelming.

Librarians are needed to educate clients on the voracity of content, ensuing they find and use the best information available. This is why, she says, librarians have gone from information custodians to knowledge brokers.

Nerida is the Chair of SLA's KM division for 2009, and she talks about her goals for the upcoming year. She aims to reposition librarians out of the information space and into the knowledge space. She wants to encourage librarians to use technologies, such as social tools, to share and communicate with others, and become knowledge brokers.

Nerida will reveal more about this when she and Karen Huffman, Chair Elect of the KM Division in 2009, present a continuing education course before the SLA conference 2009. The course is slated for Saturday, June 13 in Washington, D.C., and focuses on evaluating library and research services using narrative techniques. Inmagic will be at the conference too, and is sponsoring the KM reception.

Here more of Nerida's insights by clicking play below.

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